Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 83%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 88%
IMDb Rating 6.4 10 3869


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October 01, 2017 at 12:50 PM

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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by TheLittleSongbird 8 / 10

Powerful? Yes. Fearless? Yes. An easy watch? No

Tackling a difficult and sensitive subject on film is very brave, and also important in showing how awful sexual abuse is and the damaging effects it leaves on the victims. While a difficult subject, generally, due to the amount of ignorance and generalisations it garners (with victim blaming for example), it needs to be addressed more.

Like my fairly recent (a couple of months ago) viewing of 'The Girl in the Book', 'Una' is a tough watch but overall very rewarding, being beautifully done and emotionally powerful. Based on David Harrower's play 'Blackbird', although not a victim of sexual abuse, 'Una' really resonated with me and shows no signs of being afraid to show the full effects and not trivialise it. It also captures the claustrophobia of the play so that there is plenty of tension, but does it in a way that opens things out and not make it feel stage-bound (a danger with films/television translated from plays).

'Una' is not flawless. It does drag somewhat in the middle act and the shifts from past to present day to start with are not always clear. Otherwise, there is very little wrong with it and it does a huge amount right.

It's a good-looking film, being very nicely and atmospherically shot and lit. The music is never intrusive or too low-key, it doesn't overbear the drama while still having presence and in no way does it feel inappropriate.

Benedict Andrews directs with a suspenseful touch, passion for the subject and potent realism, he doesn't allow the film to hold back nor does he allow it to go overboard with the unsubtle. 'Una' is not always subtle but that is not an issue, the subject itself isn't subtle either. The script is taut and poignant, with the confrontation between the present day Una and Ray having so much harrowing truth.

What really makes 'Una' particularly good are the storytelling and performances. The story may drag in the middle at times, but the final act is electrifying and logical, not trivialising the effects of the abuse like the final act of 'The Girl in the Book' did and rings true far more. The confrontation is particularly harrowing while the main characters' thoughts, darkest desires and motivations are just as frightening, complex and difficult to fathom. On the most part, the past (through flashbacks) and present day time-lines are structured clearly and beautifully intertwined.

Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelssohn's performances are positively on blistering fire, particularly Mara, while that of Ruby Stokes is also hard to forget in the best of ways.

In conclusion, not quite one of my favourites of the year or ever, but powerful and brave film and that it was not an easy watch, considering the subject it's portraying, worked in its favour rather than against it. 8/10 Bethany Cox

Reviewed by ([email protected]) 8 / 10

Remarkable translation of a play to screen

After this film was screened at the Toronto Film Festival today, an audience member asked director Andrews about the skill of lead actor Mendelsohn in his portrayal of such a deceitful and manipulative character. The host repeated the question without the adjectives but fortunately the question was answered as it was asked. Mr. Andrews noted that many audience members didn't see the "Ray" character in that fashion at all.

Indeed this ambiguity and its affect on Una is at the heart of this film as well as the play Blackbird upon which it is based. I generally am not happy when plays are translated into films but I found this adaptation to be quite the exception. The camera was able to extend the scope of the play to include scenes from the crucial events which occurred 15 years before the main confrontation which occupies most of the film.

A brilliant first film from director Andrews which will hopefully reach the wide audience it deserves.

Reviewed by screechy_jim 3 / 10

Slow, boring and unengaging.

The main issue I had with this movie is that it's boring. I don't mean a little boring, I mean pretty damn boring. The subject matter is highly emotive and normally such a topic would set the stage for an exciting, dramatic, even divisive experience which would be the subject of much controversy and some considerable exposure. Well, unfortunately it really ticks none of the boxes needed for good flick and instead ends up as a boring account of a rather odd occurrence some 15 years after then initial incident.

I don't know who or what this was aimed at, where this was going, or what sort of experience it was supposed to convey, but sadly unless its intention was to put me to sleep, any other goal was well wide of the mark. For such an intense subject, really just following through with half decent execution should net an average score, but here the proceedings are a bit of a mess.

Much of the body of this film is filler and realistically an hour and a half is way too long given most of it is useless padding that adds no depth, dimension or understanding. So many pointless shots with silly music, so little conveyed with such a lengthy production.

There is a lot wrong with this film but essentially I think there is at least a little wrong with everything, and a lot wrong with Most of it. I can't say there are any redeeming factors as it is barely watchable at best.

I'd avoid it and watch something more meaningful like Tom & Jerry instead.

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